Despair? Older homeless men's accounts of their emotional trajectories

Graham Smith, Paula Nicolson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract: This article is based on in-depth oral history interviews with five older men who had experienced homelessness. The interviews, which contain many untapped psychological issues, were (re)analysed with particular attention being paid to emotions and issues of self and identity. Here we provide evidence that resulted from the addition of a social psychological/psychoanalytic perspective on the men’s stories exploring the efficacy of Erik Erikson’s psychosocial developmental stages, particularly the eighth stage – integrity versus despair. While it might be assumed that these men’s accounts would support Erikson’s view that their psychosocial development would lead to despair this was not the case. The men’s sense of self/identity and emotionality were more complex and reliant on biographical reflexivity leading to awareness of the contradictions in their own life reviews.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-42
Number of pages12
JournalOral History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Oral History
  • Homelessness

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